Planning a bucket list-worthy Hawai‘i trip? Consider Kauai. Even for an island chain known for its chill vibes, gorgeous scenery and idyllic weather, Kauai stands out as one of the best places to visit in Hawai‘i. Of course, some parts of Kauai have a little more to offer than others. So what’s the best area to stay on Kauai?
Connect with Fora to get insider intel on that question, and unlock awesome VIP hotel perks and free upgrades in the process. Ready to get started?
The 4 best areas to stay on Kauai
Any vacation to Hawai‘i is going to be magical, but unless you have months to spend between the islands, you’re going to want to pick a specific island to explore. With four distinct regions offering something for every type of traveler, Kauai makes its case.
Here are the best areas to stay on Kauai:
1. The South Side: the best area to stay on Kauai for the weather
Kauai is probably the best Hawaiian island for first-time visitors who want to enjoy a nature getaway without competing for beach access, even on the South Side of Kauai, the island’s most traveled coast.
Poipu Beach is the spot to be, featuring some of the island’s best resorts, finest dining options and plenty to do for anyone that desires a relaxing vacation.
Rain and clouds are infrequent here, especially during the summer months, so the South Side is the best area to stay on Kauai for those looking for classic island weather.
The South Side is also the easiest region to visit, as Kauai’s only major airport is in Lihue, on the eastern tip of the coast (learn how to travel between Hawaiian islands here).
However, there are a couple downsides to the South Side of Kauai. You won’t find many budget-friendly accommodations here, and some travelers find it to be a little too touristy (at least compared to the North Shore, Kauai’s second most traveled destination).
If you want to learn more about the South Side, connect with Fora for expert travel tips, including recommendations for the best accommodations on this coast.
2. The North Shore: the best area to stay on Kauai for resorts
The North Shore somehow finds a way to outclass the South Side’s beauty, featuring a number of quiet luxury resorts that sit between an incredible mountain backdrop and heavenly beaches.
You won’t find much development here outside of the resort areas. Princeville is the only town with noteworthy shopping and dining options, and it’s fairly secluded from the rest of Kauai. But the North Shore’s natural allure is enough for many to forgive the apparent lack of nightlife and things to do that don’t involve the beach.
This region also sees a lot of rain during the “winter” months (it’s winter in name only; the weather is still gorgeous when it’s not pouring). Otherwise, if you’re looking for an intimate island getaway, the North Shore is the best area to stay on Kauai.
Sidenote: if you want a more upbeat, romantic island getaway, check out our adventurous Maui vacation guide.
3. The Coconut Coast (aka the east coast): the best area to stay on Kauai for variety
Because of its central location, the Coconut Coast is the best area to stay on Kauai if you want to sample everything the island has to offer. This is also Kauai’s busiest and most developed region, athough it doesn’t even approach Oahu’s hustle and bustle (see our beginner’s guide to exploring Oahu and our local's guide to the best of the island), and it’s here that you’ll find Kauai’s best shopping and widest selection of accommodations.
Consequently, this is the most family-friendly area to stay on Kauai (but we’ll stop short of calling this the best Hawaiian island for families and kids; Oahu still has arguably more to offer). (If you're looking for more family-friendly travel tips, check out our guide to visiting Spain with kids.)
And while the Coconut Coast’s beaches aren’t as popular as the South Side’s or as scenic as the North Shore’s, they offer the best opportunity for cultural immersion since these beaches are local favorites. Even better, you’ll find plenty of authentic dining options here that won’t break the bank (or check out our Hawai‘i foodie's guide if you’re in the mood to sample a more luxurious menu). Either way, book your trip with Fora to access all the best gastronomic adventures.
4. The West Side: the best area to stay on Kauai for adventure
Finally, we have the West Side. This is the best area to stay on Kauai if you’re into camping and (extraordinary) hiking trails. Both Waimea Canyon State Park and Kokee State Park offer exemplary opportunities to explore Kauai’s incredible landscapes, the former being the more popular choice.
If camping and hiking aren’t prescribed in your dream vacation, you won’t find much else on this part of the island. On the other hand, if you want a larger reserve for a walkabout, you may want to consider a Big Island adventure instead: Volcanoes National Park is otherworldly, while the Mauna Kea Ice Age Reserve offers a chance to delve into both nature and Hawai‘i’s archeological past.
Connect with a Fora Advisor to find the best area to stay on Kauai for you
Eager to start your Kauai vacation? Connect with Fora to learn more about the best areas to stay on Kauai that suit your preferences. Your advisor will work with you to determine which area is the best match while offering up insider travel tips and hotel perks (so you can splurge elsewhere!).